The Convention Hotel’s Tax Breaks and Gimmes
Reviewing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city of Kansas City and the developers who want to build a convention hotel, I see that the developers are asking to be exempted from all sorts of taxes. You can read your own copy of the MOU here:
It appears that, unlike most TIF projects, the developers want 100 percent of incremental economic activity taxes, including sales taxes and the earnings tax. Page 11 of the MOU states,
The City will . . . redirect through its annual budget the City’s portion of the Project TIF for a period of 23 years and Super TIF for a period of 30 years generated from the Project’s tax revenue sources . . .
In other words, they want the half that they get from the TIFs directly, and then they want the city to give them the rest through the appropriations process. Here is the tax revenue the developers want to keep:
- Tax Increment Financing (TIF): as mentioned above, all economic activity taxes collected by and for the county, school district, library district, and the zoo will be redirected back to the project for 23 years.
- A Super TIF that collects for 30 years the tax not captured in the TIF above, including the convention and visitors tax, and redirects it to the developers.
- A 100 percent exemption on sales taxes on construction materials and real/personal property taxes.
- The creation of a 1 percent Community Improvement District (CID) tax that will then be redirected back to the developers.
Here are some extra freebies the developers want:
- A cash contribution of $35 million.
- The city’s portion of the land, valued at $13 million.
- Fees generated by zoning, permits, inspections, etc., capped at $800,000.
- A management fee to the hotel for catering amounting to $62,363,816 over 15 years. Should the event fees be insufficient to cover this, the city will pay, “from any legally available city funds,” just like we do with the Power & Light District.
Here are some possible problems for the city, based on past issues:
- The “City will maintain the existing Convention Center to its current standards. . . .” Isn’t this exactly what the city failed to do with Kemper Arena?
- The MOU says that the city won’t be responsible for cost overruns, “except to the extent intentionally caused by the City without Good cause.” I’m guessing there will be an attorney whose full-time job it is to find ways to sue the city over this, just like Cordish sued Jackson County over its assessment.
Not mentioned in the MOU is any exemption from the streetcar Transportation Development District (TDD). Apparently, funding the downtown streetcar is more important than funding the city, county, schools, libraries, and zoo. What does that say about the City Council’s view of the rest of Kansas City?